Look In the Sky: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s OSHA

On May 18, 2018, OSHA issued an internal memorandum to its regional administrators outlining procedures for the use of “drones” during inspections.   Despite the fact this memorandum was issued nearly a year ago, very little is known about the practical impact on enforcement activities.   Employers need to remember that OSHA does not have unlimited search authority.  Employers are protected against unauthorized searches by the government under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The use of drones by OSHA for searches in the workplace creates multiple issues for concern including an expansion of the “plain view doctrine”; violation of the constitutional right against unauthorized searches; safety concerns about drones hovering over the workplace; whether to require a warrant; and the concern of the drone videotape capturing trade secrets.  There are more questions than answers at this point about drone inspections.  Therefore, it is prudent for employers to educate management, supervisors, and workers, so when an OSHA team shows up with drones as part of the inspection process, everyone will be prepared.  Please join us for our Webinar on August 21, 2019, when we review and discuss the OSHA Inspection process, including the use of drones, and the adoption of a policy in advance on whether a warrant will be required.


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